Today my quarter ended at school, and I'm starting my crazy journey to become a better programmer and get into the game industry. When I'm on winter break, I'm planning to spend 18 hours a day studying game programming topics or working on projects. During school, it'll be 12 hours a day on game dev, and 6 hours on school- classes + homework. I always slacked off in undergrad and crammed for tests, but I think if I spread my studies to a few hours a day and keep my head above the water, I can manage to keep up with my coding instead of getting swamped.
For now my goal is to learn as much as possible. I'd love to just jump in and start coding some FPS or RTS, but I think it's better to learn how to do things the right way, and it could save a lot of wasted time from trying to puzzle through things that are above my head. Today I read all the PDF files for the Gameversity course about Design Patterns. It was pretty useful and I'm glad I finally took time out to learn about patterns, although I don't know if it was really worth the money for 50 pages or so worth of PDF files. Right now I'm learning IA-32 architecture from Ars Technica and reading the awesome optimization manual that Intel created. I also want to finally learn how to use VTune properly.
The other thing I'm working on is Hero of Allacrost as the graphics programmer. It's a lot of fun, especially since all the guys on the team (including me) are oldschool RPG fans. I'm working on image warping effects right now, not exactly sure how I'm gonna do it but I've heard Haaf's game engine (HGE) uses "distortion meshes" so maybe something along those lines.